Kids Are Being Harmed By Social Media Algorithms, Supervisor Lawson-Remer Wants County To Intervene

News Date

Mental health experts warn habitual social media use is nearing addiction levels and contributing to the youth mental health crisis. Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, a parent, wants the County to join a growing national push to hold social media platforms accountable by initiating or joining existing litigation to protect youth mental health. 

Today during a press conference attended by the Supervisor shared details of her policy that will come before the Board of Supervisors on July 16th for a vote, which includes a resolution to support the U.S. Surgeon General’s effort to put warning labels on social media platforms.

“Kids are being harmed by social media. It is affecting their mental and emotional well-being,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair, of the Board of Supervisors. “These platforms have knowingly developed addictive algorithms akin to the opioids manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. I want our County to legally intervene and throw our support behind the U.S. Surgeon General’s recommendations.”  

Last year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory warning that social media is contributing to our nation’s youth mental health crisis. The American Psychological Association (APA) has since also issued a health advisory examining the connections between social media use and reduced well-being and rising mood disorders, chiefly depression, and anxiety among youth ages 10 to 25 years old.

Youth are now exposed daily to strategically designed social media algorithms and features that capitalize on their vulnerabilities to drive engagement.  Youth are hypersensitive to social feedback and seek social rewards including attention and approval from peers. The APA reports that U.S. teens spend an average of five hours every day using the seven most popular social media apps, with Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube accounting for 87% of their social media time.

The recommendations the Board of Supervisors will vote on Tuesday, July 16th are:  

  • Direct the County Counsel, in consultation with the CAO, to explore options for initiating, pursuing, and/or joining litigation against social media platforms, including but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, X, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube for their failure to protect youth mental health and regularly report back to the Board in an appropriate manner until litigation is filed and, thereafter as necessary. 

  • Adopt a resolution entitled A Resolution of the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Diego relating to the Surgeon General’s calls for warning labels on social media platforms. 

Others in attendance at the press conference included

  • Dr. Jean Twenge, Professor of Psychology at SDSU researching generational differences and published author

  • Tara Djordjevic, San Diego Unified School District’s SWEAR Committee (Student Wellness Education & Resources)

  • Vihaan Bhardwaj, San Diego Unified School District’s SWEAR Committee (Student Wellness Education & Resources), and 

  • Representatives from the San Diego LGBT Community Center and  YMCA of San Diego County

The County’s already had success with litigation against gun manufacturers and opioid manufacturers.